Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Adoption and Breastfeeding

August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month. Having neither ever breastfed nor been breastfed, I'm generally respectful of, but unimpressed by, the hyperbole about Mother's Milk. I don't dispute the benefits of nursing, but I don't buy into the propaganda that those benefits are only available through the bare breast.

Bonding and attachment - My bottle-fed daughter and I couldn't be any closer if we shared the same skin. Every feeding was intimate and breathtaking, with our eyes locked on each other and her tiny hand clutching my hair. Now and then her rosebud mouth would pause mid-suck to grin up at me, and I would think, "This may be the moment my heart finally bursts."

My son, currently on the bottle, is happy, confident, attached, easy-going, and delightful. His feedings take much longer than his sisters, because he grins and giggles so much he forgets to suck. Nice "problem" to have.

Immunity - My daughter has always been healthy as an ox. She has never had an ear infection, never had a serious illness, and has far fewer colds than most kids I know. Her immune system is strong, her hair and skin are vibrant, she has a fantastic appetite and boundless energy. My son is in excellent health, strong, and thriving.

Nutrition - Our pediatrician (and father of four) has no problem with the nutritional particulars of the formula we use. Good enough for me.

It's become rather fashionable for adoptive mothers (and, I'm sorry to say, some fathers) to breastfeed, and I just don't get it. Why pump and massage and pop pills... when it's most likely that even if you can produce some milk it won't be enough to meet the baby's needs? Do people really believe that bottle-feeding is significantly inferior for both baby and mother (father)?

Am I over-thinking if I suggest that if you're that driven to breastfeed maybe you're not as OK with adopting as you thought you were? Maybe you're feeding something inside you, rather than your baby.

I don't mean to sound insensitive. Gosh knows there's too much badgering on both sides of the breastfeeding issue, and I'm not looking to start any fights. Maybe I'm ignorant about it because as I said at the beginning of this post, I have zero personal experience with nursing.

Or maybe I just don't get it because I just don't get it. Hey, I think people drinking cow's milk is creepy, so I know I've got skews in my perspective.

What is your experience with this? I'd like to know what you think.

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
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Anonymous said...

As a natural mother (what you call birthmother)I think it's disturbed. The adoption machine gave you a kid, except the fact that you can't have everything. If you can't feel motherly without breastfeeding maybe you shouldn't have adopted. Good post but not strong enough against it. IMO

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your post! We're newly (i.e. way on the bottom of the list) waiting for placement and I've had people ask me if I'm going to BF. Are you effing kidding me?!?!?! I don't care that there's drugs that will make you lactate and that it can be done. I didn't carry this child so what good is my milk going to do?

Deb said...

Being apparently a less informed adoptive mother, I didn't even know that I could breastfeed my daughter. There is so much PRO-breastfeeding information out there...how much healthier your baby will be if they are breastfeed, fewer ear infections, fewer allergies...you name. I was actually made to feel guilty that I wasn't breastfeeding her. Maybe that's the issue?

Allie said...

I have a blog post half-done on this very topic. In a nutshell, everyone and their dog knows that anything the mother ingests is in the breastmilk. I would think this would be true of the *synthetic* hormones and other drugs women are given to trigger the drop. Part of me thinks it a scam to sell more drugs.

God knows adoption is difficult enough; why make things harder on ourselves?

I'll post it sometime in the next week or so.


TXMom2B said...

I originally wanted to nurse because I thought it might be less expensive than buying formula the whole first year. Plus, I wanted the bonding experience, and the convenience of always having my baby's meal with me. I remember waking up in the middle of the night, stumbling into the kitchen with a screaming baby trying to make a bottle. Ugh.

But it wasn't long before I figured out how to make it easier on myself and now I'm glad I never tried to nurse. I don't see anything wrong with it, and every major pediatrics organization recommends breastmilk, but, like your kids, my son has thrived on formula. No one has ever given me any grief, not even a hint of it, so I don't understand the guilt some moms describe. Plus, I hear horror stories about the pain of nursing, and I loved how it digested slower. So it all worked out eventually.

Infertile In the City said...

I'm not pursuing adoption but surrogacy, and i do not judge my friends who are not BFing their chid, I don't want to be judged for my decision to induce lactation either.
It's a personal choice, just as it was your personal choice not to bf.

Jason and Cheryl said...

As an adoptive parent, I have never, ever had the desire to breastfeed my daughter. I have read all the literature that our adoption agency sent about this topic and was not impressed. I think it's nice to know that you can have the option to breastfeed if that's what is important to you but I have never felt that I needed or wanted to participate. The adoption process itself is tough enough. Do we really need more to deal with?

My daughter is a year old and has been formula fed since the day she was born. She is as healthy as can be. We are bonded as much if not more than any other mother and child.

Just my two cents worth.....

Lisa said...

I know of 2 adoptive parents who are currently breastfeeding their child and one parent who is actively preparing to once their child is home.

Honestly before the topic came up on our message board, I had never heard of this option.

There is a part of me that finds it baffling and for many of the same reasons you listed so well!BUT they feel empowered by this ability to nourish their child, even in some small part and wholeheartedly believe they are enhancing the bonding experience.

As for me, I am completely comfortable and secure with bottle feeding. My babies are healthy, secure & happy....and that makes Mama happy too! :)

Great post!

Rebekah said...

I have breast fed and bottle fed my children. Breast feeding is REALLY hard, and as for the bonding thing, well we bonded alright....ALL NIGHT LONG. LOL Its exausting. I much more enjoyed formula feeding, but like I said I did both. The only difference I noticed was that my bottle fed baby seemed to get very chubby very fast compared to the other children. I am an advocate for bottle and breast. :)

Dory said...

As an adoptee, the idea of an adoptive parent breast feeding creeps me out. I'm glad my adoptive mother didn't do it.

Parenthood For Me said...

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